Michigan Organic Listserv

October, 9, 2010


Upcoming Events of Interest


Vegetable 201: Ready to take the next step? Deadline Approaching!


When: November 4, 2010, from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Where: Kalamazoo Holiday Inn West, 2747 South 11th Street

Why: This one-day workshop is intended for those who have some experience with vegetable gardening and have explored or considered turning it into a commercial venture, or for those who would like to add a vegetable enterprise to an existing farm business.

This program will provide a general overview of commercial vegetable production and resources to help you succeed.

How: Cost: $50 per person pre-registration required, deadline October 29. Fee includes resource packet, lunch and snacks. Download registration form at under the event tab.


Teacher Training Workshops on Implementing the Fresh from the Farm Program

When: October 14-16, 2010

Where: Columbia College, 8th Floor (Room 801 B&C), 1104 S. Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605

Why: The Fresh from the Farm program consists of three sessions. Session one (Oct. 14), gives an introduction to the Fresh Farm Program. Session two (Ocy.150, takes teachers out into Chicago’s largest school garden to learn how to plan and implement their own school garden. Session three (Oct. 16), gives teachers an opportunity to take a field trip to a local organic farm. Teachers will take away key knowledge about growing healthy foods. There is an optional Fresh from the Farm classroom observation. This gives teachers a first hand look at the Fresh from the Farm lesson being implemented.


Educators will become certified to teach Fresh from the Farm after completing this three-part workshop series, where they will learn from registered dieticians, gardeners, and wellness educators.

How: Cost: $100.00 total for all three sessions, including optional observation day. To register for Fresh from the Farm workshops or for more information, please contact Melissa Tobias or Cindy Gapinski. Mail, fax or attach the Registration Form (found at ) with payment to:

Cindy Gapinski

Seven Generations Ahead

642 S. Lombard Ave., 2nd floor

Oak Park, IL 60304

Fax: 708.660.9913

Email: [log in to unmask]


Space is limited so register early for Food Safety Alliance guest speaker Joel Ortiz, R.S., from Whole Foods Market

When: Friday, October 15, 2010, from, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Where: Lansing, MI

Why: Joel Ortiz, R.S., from Whole Foods Market will provide an overview of Whole Foods' small supplier food safety program they use to evaluate, educate, and support small suppliers.

This presentation is open to anyone interested, but and RSVP is required and space is limited. Register by emailing [log in to unmask] or call (517) 373-9730.


 Making it in Michigan specialty food show and conference

When: October 26, 2010, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Where: The Lansing Center, 333 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MI

Why: This conference will help you decide if and how to grow your agriculture business. It is a great place to connect with others who have succeeded in creating and marketing an agricultural sourced products, such as spices, teas, salsas, tortilla chips, Michigan Great Lakes fish, and beans.  If you have a product you think would be a value to Michigan’s marketplace then this is the place to check out this possibility.

Cost: $60 per person   Registration includes continental breakfast and walking lunch during Trade Show.  Register online and visit

 FREE No-Till Farm Tour: Farmers can learn about the benefits of using cover crops and manure with no-till

When: October 27, 2010, from 10 a.m. - noon

Where: Blight Farm, 11705 24 Mile Road, Albion, MI 49224

Why: This is a free plot tour to see first-hand how nutrients from manure applications can be captured, held and recycled to the following season. During the tour associate professor Tim Harrigan in the MSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering will demonstrate the slurry seeding method and discuss past research.

Ken Blight who is the tour host and hog and beef producer, and Doug Bloom, a Coldwater, Mich., dairy producer, will discuss their success in using rye cover crops in combination with manure to decrease manure runoff and capture manure liquids and nutrients. This practice enables them to reduce their purchased nitrogen inputs in the following season.

Roberta Osborne, MSU Extension regional dairy educator, will outline the feed value qualities of rye for dairy cows.  Natalie Rector, MSU Extension nutrient management educator, will provide how-to basics of manure and cover crops.  Dean Baas, a visiting research associate at the Kellogg Biological Station, an MSU facility that is part of the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station network, will show farmers how they can use a new cover crop database to select the one that meets their goals.  

Funding for this project came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grants program. 

How: For more information contact Rector at [log in to unmask] or 269-967-6608. No registration is necessary.


2010 Integrated Crop and Pest Management Update

When: December 17, from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Where: Michigan State University (MSU) Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education, 4301 Farm Lane, East Lansing, MI 48824


Why: This educational program is intended for agribusiness, pesticide sales and service professionals, crop consultants, field crop educators and farmers. Participants will be provided with current recommendations for potential pest problems, fertilizer practices, the 2011 MSU Weed Control Guide, and other insect and disease publications. The day includes a review of the 2010 season and a discussion of the 2011 recommendations. MSUE specialists will be on hand to answer participants’ questions. Participants will receive MDA and CCA pesticide re-certification credits at this session.      


How: Cost: $50 per person and includes refreshments, lunch, the 2011 MSU Weed Control Guide and other insect and disease publications. The deadline for registration and payment is December 10. After the deadline, the registration fee is $60. Registration forms may be downloaded from  Registrations can be mailed to:

Eaton County MSU Extension

551 Courthouse Drive, Suite 1

Charlotte, Mich. 48813-1047

or faxed to 517-543-8119. For more information, please call the Eaton County MSU Extension Office at 517-543-2310.


The 2010 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo

When: December 7-9, 2010

Where: DeVos Place Convention Center, Grand Rapids, MI

Why: The EXPO offers informative education programs for fruit, vegetable and greenhouse growers, and for farm marketers. This year there is 63 sessions and workshops over 3 days.

Topics include:

Along with the numerous educational programs a Trade Show is offered during the EXPO. This includes 400 exhibitors covering four acres of exhibit space in one hall. To see list of exhibitors visit:

How: Register on-line or download the EXPO registration form at Pre-register by November 12 to save money.


News for Organic Farmers

Dodder: A potential new weed problem

Recently, the parasitic weed dodder was found in a Michigan field that was frost seeded to clover. Dodder (Cuscuta spp.) is a parasitic weed that is rarely found in Michigan. This annual plant is a true parasitic weed that extracts water, nutrients, and carbohydrates from the host plant. Dodder resembles orange or yellow “string” that grows extensively across and around affected plants (Photo 1 visit: Dodder reproduces by seed that develops in small clusters of white to pink flowers that are reported to show up early in the spring. This hard coated seed has been reported to survive in the soil for up to 60 years. When the seed germinates, it produces an ineffective root that can only support the dodder seedling for a couple of days. Seedling survival is dependent on the availability and proximity (within 1 to 3 inches) of a host plant. Upon germination, dodder seedlings are in search of suitable hosts. When in contact with a host, the dodder seedlings coil counter-clockwise around the host plant (Photo 2 visit: Dodder then produces small sucking appendages known as “haustoria” that penetrate the host plant to extract water, nutrients and carbohydrates from that host, the small initial root of dodder than dies. It has been reported that dodder can grow up to three inches per day, continually producing new haustoria that drain nutrients from the host plant. Dodder infestations can reduce yield and weaken host plants making them more susceptible to other pests and diseases that may eventually kill the host.

Dodder has many crop hosts including: clover, alfalfa, sugarbeet, soybean, dry bean, potato, and tomato to name a few. Several broadleaf weeds have also been reported to be hosts of dodder. Grass species including corn have been reported to be non-hosts. Once dodder is identified in a field, it should be quickly removed before it produces seed. We have little experience with control of dodder, since it is a relatively rare occurrence in Michigan. Glyphosate has been reported to provide some control of dodder; however, this has been reported when glyphosate has killed the host plant. In searching the literature, I haven’t been able to find out how control of dodder is in Roundup Ready (glyphosate-resistant) crops, when the crop is able to tolerate glyphosate applications. If you find dodder in any of your fields this fall or next spring, please contact your local extension agent of myself at [log in to unmask].

Source: Field Crops CAT Alert September 23, 2010 Christy Sprague, Crop and Soil Sciences. View article online at: visit:



Information About New "Cottage Food" Law

This new law exempts a "cottage food operation" from the licensing and inspection provisions of the Food Law of 2000. A "cottage food operation" is defined as a person who produces or packages a "non-potentially hazardous" food (such as baked goods, jams, jellies, candy, snack foods, cereal, granola, dry mixes, vinegar, or dried herbs) in a home kitchen (the kitchen of the person's primary domestic residence). A cottage food operation would still have to comply with the labeling, adulteration, disclosure, and other provisions found in the Food Law, as well as other applicable state or federal laws, or local ordinances. Select the links below for more information about Cottage Foods in Michigan.


Cottage Food FAQ's

What are Cottage Foods? Specific types of foods that you manufacture in the kitchen of your single family domestic residence.

What does a single family domestic residence include? This is the place where you live, whether you own the home or are renting. So an apartment, condominium or a rental home all could be a single family domestic residence. It does not include group or communal residential settings, such as group homes, sororities or fraternities.

What types of Cottage Foods can I produce in my home? Non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require time and/or temperature control for safety. For examples visit under the organic marketing tab.

What types of Cottage Foods are NOT ALLOWED to be produced in my home? Potentially hazardous foods that require time and/or temperature control for safety. For examples visit under the organic marketing tab.

Are pet treats included under the Cottage Food Law?

No- the Cottage Food Law applies to human grade food only. For more information about pet treat licensing, please visit

How do I sell my Cottage Foods? You may sell your Cottage Foods directly to the consumer at farmers’ markets, farm stands, roadside stands and similar venues. The key is you are selling it directly to the consumer. You cannot sell your Cottage Foods to a retailer for them to resell or to a restaurant for use or sale in the restaurant. You cannot sell your Cottage Foods over the internet, by mail order, or to wholesalers, brokers or other food distributors who will resell the Cottage Foods.

Why can’t I sell my Cottage Foods to my favorite restaurant or grocery store? The Michigan Food Law Cottage Food amendments do not allow this. Because the kitchen is unlicensed and not inspected, the safe food handling practices are not evaluated by any food safety official. Since the safe food handling practices are not being evaluated, the food is not considered an approved source for use in a restaurant or grocery store. Also, it is not possible for the final consumer to discuss your food safety practices with you, as you would not be selling or serving the product to the consumer.

Do I have to put a label on my Cottage Foods? Yes, you are required to label your Cottage Foods. To see an example visit under the organic marketing tab.

What does allergen labeling as specified in federal labeling requirements mean? It means you must identify if any of your ingredients are made from one of the following food groups: milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, soybeans, fish (including shellfish, crab, lobster or shrimp) and tree nuts (such as almonds, pecans or walnuts). So if you have an ingredient made with a wheat based product, you have two options:

1. Include the allergen in the ingredient list. For example, a white bread with the following ingredient listing: whole wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. In this example the statement Whole Wheat Flour, meets the requirements of federal law.

2. Include an allergen statement (“Contains:”) after the ingredient list. For example a white bread, with the following ingredients: whole wheat flour, water, sodium caseinate, salt and yeast. Contains wheat and milk.

Are there any special requirements for tree nuts labeling for allergens? Yes, if your Cottage Food has tree nuts as an ingredient you must identify which tree nut you are using. For example, if you made the following product: Nut Bread, an acceptable ingredient list would be: wheat flour, water, almonds, salt, yeast. The following would not be acceptable: flour, water, nuts, salt, yeast.

Are there any other limits I need to know about Cottage Foods? Yes, you are limited in the amount of money you can make selling Cottage Foods - which is $15,000 gross sales annually per household.

Can I make the Cottage Food products in an outbuilding on my property, like a shed or a barn? No, the law requires the Cottage Food products be made in your kitchen and stored in your single family domestic residence. Approved storage areas include the basement and attached garage of the home where the food is made.

Will I need to meet my local zoning or other laws? Yes, the Cottage Food exemption only exempts you from the requirements of licensing and routine inspection by the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Updated 7/26/10 Page 4 of 4

What oversight does the Michigan Department of Agriculture have over my Cottage Food operation? Cottage Food operations are considered to be food establishments, but will not have to meet most requirements outlined in the Michigan Food Law. In all cases, food offered to the public in Michigan must be safe and unadulterated, regardless of where it is produced. As a Cottage Food Operator, it is your responsibility to assure the food you make is safe. In the event a complaint is filed or a foodborne illness is linked to your food, the Michigan Department of Agriculture will investigate your operations as part of our responsibility under the Michigan Food Law. As part of that investigation, it may be necessary for the Michigan Department of Agriculture to enter and inspect your Cottage Food production and storage areas, view and copy records, and take photos during the course of a complaint investigation. The Michigan Department of Agriculture also has the right to seize product suspected of being adulterated, order corrections of label violations, or require you to discontinue making unapproved products.

Are there any additional requirements regarding my home on-site well or sewage system?

No, although annually testing your well for coliforms and nitrates is recommended. Contact your local health department for sampling containers and directions.

Does my equipment, stove and/or refrigerator need to be NSF (a food equipment evaluation group) approved? As a Cottage Food operator, you would not be required to meet NSF standards for your equipment used to manufacture the Cottage Food product.

Can I bake bread in a wood fired oven? Yes, as long as that oven is in your home kitchen.

Do I need to have a DBA for the Cottage Food law? A DBA (Doing Business As) may be a requirement of your county or local municipality; you should contact your county offices to determine if a DBA is appropriate for you.

When are Cottage Food products subject to sales tax? The Cottage Food amendments are to the Michigan Food Law. The amendments do require that the Cottage Food Operators meet all other provisions of law regarding businesses, including tax law. MDA recommends that you contact the Michigan Department of Treasury for further information on what food products are considered taxable. Their website is available through this link, Contact Treasury.

In general, sales tax is not charged on prepackaged foods that are not for immediate consumption.

If you have additional questions, please contact [log in to unmask]; please include your zip code in your request

Visit the Michigan Organic Farm Exchange  under the marketing tab for information on Cottage Food FAQ’s and the Cottage Food Labeling Guide.


Action Alert: Organic Hops

When is organic beer not really organic? Nearly always right now-and the situation may quickly get worse. The issue is hops, one of the central ingredients in beer. It's a little-known fact that "certified organic" beer can be brewed with non-organic hops, owing to a USDA ruling made in 2007. That ruling is currently up for review by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), but one of their committees has voted unanimously to continue it, and their recommendation is likely to stand unless consumers and organic  comment period that runs through October 12-or in person at the USDA hearings in Madison October 25-27 (details below).

When the original ruling was made in 2007, there were not enough organic hops in cultivation to supply the needs of American brewers. That is no longer the case. Progressive large-scale family farms in Washington and small, local growers around the country have planted organic hops-even though there is practically no market for them, since brewers have economic incentives to use cheaper, non-organic hops in their beers. Those acres will expand if the NOSB rules change. They are likely to disappear if the policy continues.

Changing the rules would benefit consumers, farmers, and the environment. Currently, consumers are paying a premium for "organic" beer that is not really organic, and few of them know they are being deceived. That's not right. Changing the rules will mean changes on farms as well. Conventionally grown hops require large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide. Progressive larger-scale growers I've talked to use their 10-acre organic plots to learn lessons about sustainability that they apply to the 1000s of acres they now grow conventionally. Meanwhile, small, local organic hop farmers will be given real opportunities to carve out niche markets with microbreweries that continue to crop up, interested in buying local and supporting sustainable. From Vermont to Michigan and Wisconsin, and from Colorado to California and the Pacific Northwest, locally grown organic hops are on the verge of establishing themselves at this moment.  The NOSB ruling will help determine whether they die on the vine, perhaps carrying the small farmers with them.

With a two-year phase-in period for the rule change-good for growers and brewers alike-we would see no disruptions in the current organic beer market and usher in an important change that needs to happen. Large and small brewers alike would have the opportunity to work with farmers and ask them to plant all the varieties of hops that are currently making this a great moment for American beer. If  II  If  that were to happen, organic consumers would no longer be deceived, large and smaller farms would advance sustainable agricultural practices, and organic beer would become truly organic. It's a win-win-win situation.

There is still time to overturn the NOSB committee's unwise decision and convince the USDA to make this very sensible rule change.
Please take a few minutes to weigh in with a brief comment registering your opinion as a consumer, environmental or food advocate, farmer, brewer, or retailer. Given the facts of the case, we have a good chance to overturn the decision if we can weigh in with numbers and reasoned positions. (If you
would like to learn more about organic hops, visit the very fine website of the American Organic Hops Growers Association:

How Can You Weigh In?

Written comments: Submit by Tuesday, October 12  via
Please identify Document Number AMS-NOP- 10-0068; NOP-10-08.


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